As a gay man, I know that it is incredibly fashionable to speak about celebrities who are in the closet and to call them hypocritical for having the power to influence the masses and yet shying away from it. It is almost taken for granted that it is easy for them to do so. “He is rich, he is famous, he doesn’t have anything to lose” is something we hear quite often. This is as if he bears the cross for the entire LGBTIQ community.
They deduce that being rich and famous is synonymous with being privileged enough to live a life free of prejudice and ridicule. That’s untrue. While it is true, that more the layers of social stigma, more are your challenges to deal with, you don’t need to economically challenged or be a minority to feel the pinch of social prejudice for being gay.
Indian films have always been gay. Gay lovers were just camouflaged as “best friends” always. Whether it is Jai and Veeru in Sholay, or whether it is Amitabh and Shashi Kapoor, supposedly in the nude, under the shower in Silsila, it was “o so gay” but just best friends showering. I am yet to meet any best straight friends showering together.
Or remember the pelvic thrusts in Main Khiladi Tu Anari between Akshay Kumar and Saif Ali Khan and Saif’s obsession with Akshay? No one spelled the word “gay” there. It was all left to people’s perception.
As far as I know, even the landmark film, My Brother Nikhil doesn’t spell out “gay” in any pronounced way. It was Karan Jahar’s ‘Dostana’, which did so and got the word outside the closet. While many of my homo homies hated and called this stereotypical, there were several others who applauded Karan and Tarun Mansukhani for spelling it out like never before.
And remember, Kanta Bai who used to catch Shah Rukh and Saif when they were in the most compromising positions? That was some many years before Dostana. But Dostana spelt it out.
The LGBT community has been hounding Karan to come out of the closet. The recent season of Koffee with karan proves that he is OUT AND ABOUT.
Shah Rukh Khan and Alia Bhatt
SRK: “I have to justify my nationalism, you have to justify your love for me.”
SRK: “You should release our picture of us kissing together, now, just do it. Just release our nudes. Just do it. And even our married pictures. Just do it. ”
Karan Johar: “Should we just officially say it – that I am the other woman?”
KJo: “Aalia was probably too young for this. But did you know we were a “rumour”?
Akshay Kumar and Twinkle Khanna
Girl : Why aren’t you married Karan? Come out in the open Karan. My sources tell me, there’s no smoke without fire.
KJo: I am far from original. I am a bit of a spin off and a bit of a rip off.
KJo: Isn’t there scope for any third in the marriage?
Twinkle: You are there. The other man. Come! Fulfill your fantasies, Karan.
Twinkle: I am the only woman you ever loved.
KJo: Yes, I did think for a very brief moment in my life that I was in love with you. I wonder why?
Twinkle: Because my testosterone is 11, which is almost a man’s and I almost had a mustache at that point. It has gone now, laser and all. You must have looked at that mustache and said, “I like that, it’s really hot, I want that!”
KJo: If I agree to what you are saying, I could be put in jail, just like you did for unbuttoning his jeans. You and I could have gone to jail. And you and I will not know what to do in that jail.
Twinkle: We will go to jail for 377 days only.
Akshay: Why 377?
Twinkle: Section 377
While Twinkle earned a place of respect in our eyes for breaking several taboos that woman face due to facial and body hair, we tend to forget that karan could well be on the edit table editing off all controversial stuff about him. He didn’t. He had a good laugh. And allowed the world to have a good laugh too. Though Karan was mistaken. You can never go to jail for being gay. Imagine where I would be then. I am a homo. However, we need to understand that however unfounded his fears are, he is entitled to it. He is entitled to spell it out and to not spell it out too.
Varun Dhawan and Arjun Kapoor
Varun and Arjun speak about being almost naked.
Situation: You are at a bar in Mumbai. You (Arjun)are a very strong butch acting gay boy… and you (arun) are a very shy, demure, just come out of the closet.
Varun: Have my parents accepted me?
KJo: Your father is resistant, but your mother has accepted you.
Varun: Am I carrying baggage?
KJo: well, who can perform these situations better?
Arjun: This one, you will perform better than what we ever can.
My eyes welled up when I saw this. How much baggage is Karan carrying... and why should he be made to feel like he is holding the cross for the entire gay community?
Ranveer Singh and Ranbir Kapoor
In this episode, in addition to the thousand innuendos, he had Ranveer Singh and Ranbir Kapoor kissing the “object of desire”, Arjun Kapoor. It seemed like Ranveer Singh had actually kissed Arjun on the lips.
KJo: If you will both straighten up.
Arjun: I shouldn’t?
KJo: No, you are the object of desire. You are not allowed to say anything.
Ranveer: Ohhh, lip balm leke aao.
While Ranveer Singh’s testosterone and overt energy package went into an overdrive to a point of irritation, Karan introduced the fact that a man could be an object of desire for a man.
Yes, the object of desire could be a man. He broke several taboos by giving us a different view of things, albeit not like some sermon or speech in an LGBT pride parade, but spiced with a lot of politically incorrect humour. Much of it, self-deprecating.
Karan, I hate you for portraying the gay community as a wife snatcher in Bombay Talkies and didn’t quite like the portrayal of the LGBTIQ community in Student of the Year. I hated the way you portrayed Hijras in Agneepath as some violent beings. I quite appreciate Kapoor and Sons and Dostana, considering the time it had come out… where humour could have been the only way to spell out the word gay and make it more palatable. Incidentally, these films were not directed by Karan.
I would pardon Karan for his bad movies easily, considering what Madhur Bhandarkar does in every film and gets away with a National Award for it. Imagine, every film has a girl who has come from a small city to a big city to feel cheated and exploited… an incident of child sexual abuse… and then there is a gay guy who is basically someone who either has a marriage of contract with a woman (Fashion) or is cheating on his best female friend by sleeping with her boyfriend (Page 3).
So basically Madhur’s films show gay people as these lecherous, cheating men and we pardon him easily and give him National Awards and call his films “realistic” despite his pattern exposing his intent of humiliating queer citizens of the country. But we target Karan Johar, because he is gay and has not spelt it out.
Cinema is a reflection of the society, Karan. And you, have come a long way, your films have come a long way. Our society has come a long way. I adore you, Karan. I know you have been lambasted by fellow gay men for being a queen in veil. I disagree with them. As a fellow leader in this movement for equality for the LGBT commununity, I owe you a thanks.
Thank you Karan, because your films and your chat show, has a role in ushering in this change.
Kuch Kuch Hota Hai Karan, Tum Nahi Samjhoge.
P.S.: And yaah, Karan, you don’t owe us a coming out. If you come any outer than this, you will fall off. :)
(Harish Iyer is an equal rights activist working for the rights of the LGBT community, women, children and animals. ‘Rainbow Man’ is Harish’s regular blog for The Quint)